Newswise — The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recognizes 176 units from 128 hospitals nationwide that earned the Beacon Award for Excellence between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016. (View recipient list.)

The Beacon Award for Excellence lauds hospital units that employ evidence-based practice to improve patient and family outcomes. The Beacon award provides gold, silver and bronze levels of recognition to hospital units that exemplify excellence in professional practice, patient care and outcomes. Recognition continues for three years.

Beacon-designated units meet criteria in five categories that are consistent with criteria for other national awards, including Magnet recognition ®, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Forum’s Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality awards. Units that receive the Beacon award demonstrate practices that align with AACN’s Healthy Work Environment Standards.

Recipients of a gold-level Beacon award demonstrate staff-driven excellence in sustained unit performance and improved patient outcomes that exceed national benchmarks. Silver-level recipients demonstrate continuous learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care. Bronze-level awardees demonstrate success in developing, deploying and integrating unit-based performance criteria for optimal outcomes.

In 2016, three units at Shands Hospital, part of University of Florida (UF) Health, Gainesville, received gold-level Beacon awards and one received silver. With the addition of these units, the hospital now has five Beacon-recognized units.

Irene Alexaitis, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, vice president for nursing and patient services and chief nursing officer at UF Health Shands Hospital, said, “The Beacon Award is one of the most respected and celebrated awards for exceptional patient care. We’re proud of the nursing staff in these units for earning silver- and gold-level recognition. These achievements further reflect our focus on cultivating quality outcomes and maintaining the highest standard of nursing practice.”

Additionally, The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, New Jersey, had four units recognized in 2016, including three that received gold-level recognition. Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami, also had three units recognized with gold-level Beacon awards. St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn, New York, received two gold and two silver Beacon Awards.

Both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center, Richmond, had five units recognized in 2016, including one each that received gold-level recognition. VCU now has 11 Beacon-recognized units, the most of any hospital.

In all, 41 units received gold-level Beacon awards, our highest distinction.

A total of 29 hospitals had multiple units honored with an award in 2016, demonstrating excellence in caring for high-acuity and critically ill patients and their families.

Florida had 18 hospital units recognized in 2016, followed by New York with 16 units and California and Texas with 13 units each.

AACN President Clareen Wiencek, PhD, RN, ACHPN, ACNP, associate professor of nursing at University of Virginia School of Nursing and program director of advanced practice, praises the exemplary efforts of the unit caregivers who achieved the Beacon Award for Excellence.

“The caregivers in these units are healthcare professionals committed to the best in patient care,” Wiencek said. “The continued growth of the Beacon award program shows the commitment of caregivers and their hospitals to work together to achieve healthy work environments that support excellent care of patients and their families.”

AACN honors units that earn the Beacon Award for Excellence during the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for nurses who care for acutely and critically ill patients and their families. The next NTI takes place in Houston, May 22-25 (with preconferences May 21).

Learn more about the Beacon Award for Excellence, and read about one unit’s Beacon journey in the Your Stories section of the AACN website.

About the Beacon Award for Excellence: Established in 2003, AACN’s award recognizes top U.S. hospital units that meet standards of excellence in recruitment and retention; education, training and mentoring; research and evidence-based practice; patient outcomes; leadership and organizational ethics; and creation of a healthy work environment.Award criteria — which measure systems, outcomes and environments against evidence-based national criteria for excellence — provide a mechanism to initiate patient safety efforts. To learn more about the award, visit or call 800-899-2226.

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and has more than 200 chapters throughout the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.;;